BF Skinner, one of the leading theorists of behavior guidance, defined reinforcement as a type of learning based on the association of a behavior with its consequences, which increase or decrease the likelihood of it being performed. When they are negative we are talking about punishment, and when they are positive reinforcement.
In reinforcement learning, we distinguish two types of consequences: positive and negative reinforcement. While positive reinforcement occurs when the behavior leads to a reward, negative reinforcement involves avoiding or withdrawing an aversive stimulus. Let’s take a look at the main features of the two procedures.
Strengthening and conditioning of functioning
The concepts “positive reinforcement” and “negative reinforcement” they are framed in the paradigm of instrumental or operant conditioning. Unlike classical or Pavlovian conditioning, in which we learn the association between a stimulus and a response, in the instrumental the subject associates the performance of a behavior with certain consequences.
Operant conditioning arose out of the work of behaviorists Edward Thorndike, who studied the process by which cats were able to escape “problem boxes,” and Burrhus F. Skinner, who systematically described the characteristics of this procedure. especially in education.
Skinner distinguished three types of instrumental learning: That of punishment, which consists of the appearance of an aversive stimulus after the execution of the behavior, that of omission, in which the response is associated with the absence of reward, and that of reinforcement, in which the driving is rewarded. In this procedure we find both positive and negative reinforcement.
In operative conditioning, the consequences of the behavior can be positive or negative for the recipient; however, this differentiation is not what separates positive reinforcement from negative, but when the behavior has appetizing consequences, we speak of reinforcement, And the punishment when they are aversive.
When we speak of reinforcement or punishment, the terms “positive” and “negative” do not refer to the pleasantness of the consequence, but to the pleasantness of the consequence. appearance or disappearance of a given stimulus: In positive reinforcement we learn that a reward will be obtained if something is done, and in the negative that an unpleasant stimulus will be avoided or eliminated.
What is positive reinforcement?
In positive reinforcement learning, the performance of a behavior is associated with the achievement of a pleasurable consequence. It doesn’t have to be an object, not even tangible; food, substances, a smile, a verbal message or the appearance of a pleasant emotion are likely to be understood as positive reinforcements in many contexts.
A father who praises his baby girl every time he uses the toilet correctly reinforces positive reinforcement learning; the same is true when a company gives economic bonuses to its most productive workers, and even when we get a bag of crisps after putting a coin in a vending machine.
The concept of “positive reinforcement” refers to the price who follows the conductWhile positive reinforcement is the procedure by which the learning subject achieves association. However, the terms “reinforcement” and “reinforcement” are often used interchangeably, probably because in English this distinction does not exist.
From a technical point of view, we can say that in positive reinforcement there is a positive contingency between a concrete response and an appetitive stimulus. Awareness of this contingency motivates the subject to perform the behavior in order to obtain the reward (or reinforcement).
Definition of negative reinforcement
Unlike what happens in the positive, in the negative reinforcement the instrumental response leads to the disappearance of an aversive stimulusThat is, an object or a situation that motivates the subject to escape or to try not to come into contact with him.
Behaviorally, in this procedure reinforcement is the disappearance or non-appearance of aversive stimulation. As we mentioned earlier, the word “negative” refers to the fact that the reward is not in obtaining a stimulus but in its absence.
This type of learning is in turn divided into two procedures: evasion training and avoidance training. In negative reinforcement of avoidance the behavior prevents the appearance of the aversive stimulus; for example, when an agoraphobic person avoids using public transport to avoid the anxiety that this causes, they are negatively reinforced.
In contrast, flight consists of the disappearance of an aversive stimulus that is present before the subject performs the behavior. Some examples of negative exhaust reinforcement Does an alarm clock go off when you press a button, a mother buys her child what she asks him to stop crying or take pain reliever pain reliever.